Animals Asia promotes excellence in veterinary practice in China

27 August 2020

Animals Asia is paving the way for the next generation of vets in China through a pioneering collaboration with the China Agricultural University (CAU).

The Training Program of Excellence for Clinical Veterinarians is a blended-learning course created by CAU to strengthen graduates’ understanding of veterinary practices through intensive, hands-on experiences at several high-level off-campus venues.

The China Bear Rescue Centre (CBRC) at Animals Asia’s bear sanctuary in Chengdu has welcomed graduate vets since 2014 and made the relationship official in 2016 with an agreement to offer internships to CAU graduates every year.

Animals Asia enjoys a close relationship with CAU and Professor Jin Yipeng from the School of Veterinary Medicine, who shares details of Animals Asia’s animal welfare practice and contributions to wildlife protection when he visits other universities and veterinary conferences across China.

The programme allows students to gain invaluable first-hand experience of caring for and treating the rescued bears at CBRC who endure myriad health problems due to years spent in tiny cages, while the bears benefit from the students’ training and knowledge and the latest advancements in veterinary practice. As intern Shirley explained: “We learned how to do a full comprehensive physical examination of the bear and had many hands-on experiences.”

Hu Yuquing, one of the graduates on the course was deeply moved by the work being done at the centre: “On arriving at CBRC, we saw the [farm] cages and shackles of some rescued bears, which left an impression on me. I knew about taking bile from bears, but I never thought about how bad conditions were for them. They are kept in cages for 10, even 20 years, just to satisfy human desires. When they arrive at the rescue centre, their lives seem to resume.”

Fellow student Li Di concurs: “My internship in Chengdu Bear Rescue Center gave me a precious opportunity to not only look deeper into animal welfare which previously I only had theoretical knowledge of, but also to learn from professional vets who treat the bears with love. Exposed to the conception of AnimaIs Asia, I now have a deep compassion and respect for any animal who shares the earth with us humans.”

All the students in this year’s cohort finished their internships with a deep respect for the work of Animals Asia and a commitment to continuing their compassionate and holistic approach to wildlife care, many commenting on how they would incorporate Animals Asia’s concepts into their own future practice.

Although the students received an incredible introduction to the technical and scientific approaches to bear medical practice, it wasn’t necessarily this that made the biggest impression on them. Student Ming Yuexing explains how “I saw all kinds of cool operations and health examination of wild animals, learned to make anesthesia plans for various animals and how to observe the behaviors of black bears, including stereotypical behaviors and lameness, and reported cases in English alone - but this is not what I remember the most.”

“As vets who constantly pursue our professional advancement, do we sometimes ignore or forget something? During my time at the CBRC, I remembered the reason I chose this major five and a half years ago: I love animals. But we gradually ignore or forget our hearts and love for animals. In addition to physically caring for them, we should protect their hearts.”

This year, in addition to their training, the students enjoyed a series of lectures on Animals Asia’s dog and cat welfare projects to further develop their knowledge of the welfare and medical needs of companion animals.

They also took part in small animal surgeries, as student Shing Jye Kek explains: “My second week was about small animal medicine and began with meeting the local animals. I was quite surprised how the China Bear Rescue Centre had built and maintained this biosecurity safety area for the centre for so many years, and I think It’s down to the great communication and trust the team have established with the locals.”

“I got involved in small animal surgery by practicing intubation, catheter placement and most importantly, learning the importance of animal welfare. I saw how the vet team treated nervous and stressed dogs just as it was described in textbooks! That was amazing because honestly, of all of the vet hospitals I have worked in, none of them did that with their patients.”

Animals Asia hopes to continue this exciting and important collaboration with the CAU and is actively seeking similar collaborations with other agricultural colleges in China.

Wen Yan, CBRC’s Veterinary Training Manager and Emily Drayton, Senior Veterinary Surgeon have been giving lectures at agricultural colleges and universities throughout China to do just this.

They are also increasing awareness of Animal’s Asia’s work and promoting our animal welfare education activities, with the aim of influencing veterinary practice and attitudes towards animals in the country.

As student Ma Yihen concludes: “my time at the CBRC made me personally feel a great responsibility for wildlife protection. We should teach the next generation that caring for and protecting wildlife is everyone’s duty.”

Further information about CAU and CBRC

The CAU is a research-oriented university and ranks as the top agricultural university in China. It ranked fourth in the USNEWS’ Best Global Universities for Agricultural Sciences 2019.

Animals Asia’s China Bear Rescue Centre was opened in 2000. It is accredited by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries and is still the only rescue centre for bears in China.